In 1995, I was a Pathfinder completing my Gold Camp Badge.
It was a disaster. We scheduled activities too close together, didn’t allow enough time for meal prep and cleanup, and there was a group of air cadets camped between us and the bathroom.
My leaders, even though I am sure they were frustrated to no end, let us lead though. They kept us in check, and we definitely had a few de-briefing sessions with them during camp and after, including a sit down on Saturday afternoon where we re-worked the schedule for the rest of the weekend. But they gave us the freedom to lead, and the freedom to fail.
Several years later, I was a guest Guider at another camp where the girls were earning their Gold Camp Badge.
Again, it was a disaster.
It was a disaster for different reasons. The girls wrote a schedule, and the leaders re-wrote it. The girls wrote a menu, and the leaders re-wrote it. Then, while at camp, on the fly the leaders changed their own re-write of the schedule. The poor girls couldn’t attempt to lead without being overridden by their leaders.
Now obviously, there are times when we need to step in. If the schedule includes peanut butter for lunch at a nut-free camp, the leaders need to step in. But if the schedule has the girls preparing an elaborate meal that is probably beyond them…. well, that will probably be a learning experience. No one will starve. And the leaders can pack bread and cheese to make grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone as a backup.
I guarantee you that I learned more from my failed camp than the girls did at the one I was a guest at. Having the skill to plan a camp at 15 years old translates to skills to plan a project and see it through in the workplace later on. And failure amongst peers at 15 is much less life-changing than failure amongst ones co-workers at 30.
Girls at all levels of Guiding have the ability to lead, right down to Sparks. We need to provide the girls with the opportunities to lead, and the opportunities to fail, within this safe environment. And, I bet that if you give your girls just a little bit more freedom to lead – both themselves and others – that they will surprise you!
By Guest Blogger Leslie Potvin. Leslie is a Community Guider in the Town of Georgina, Ontario.
Check out her personal blog The Mighty Tiny Chicken Ranch.
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